At age 39, I can say with confidence that I am a faster, stronger, and more determined runner than I was 7 years ago. In my younger years I easily accepted defeat and lacked self confidence; the girl I was 7 years ago would never have considered training for a full marathon. I am proud of the woman I have grown into and I am not even sorry it took me this long to realize my potential. Isn't that the point of life after all? To take the journey and learn from it? And I continue to learn more every single day.
My experience running the Walt Disney World Marathon in January was, for lack of a better word, awesome. It was the longest and most difficult run I have ever completed and it was also the best run I have ever had. When I got to the halfway point (13.1 miles), I stopped to use the bathroom with some other runners. A woman standing in line with me said to everyone nearby, "We're at the halfway point ladies, up until now you were running a half marathon, now it's official, you're in a full marathon". I won't ever forget that; it was a pivotal moment for me during that race - the reality that I had already run 13 miles and still had another 13 miles to go hit me hard - and instead of feeling scared, I felt excited. I was pumped.
During the marathon I had one fleeting moment of feeling like I wanted to quit: it was at the 20 mile mark and I distinctly remember thinking that I wasn't sure I had it in me to go another 6.2 miles to reach the finish line. But when I saw my two sons and my husband standing on the sidelines ringing cowbells and cheering me on just after mile 20, I was re-energized. The mantra I kept repeating in my head from that moment on was, "you've come this far, you can't stop now". Because after you have completed 20 miles, it's almost laughable to even consider not pushing to the end. What's another 6.2 miles anyway? Piece of cake. (Yeah, right)
Crossing the finish line of that race was such a happy and satisfying moment. I can't say it was the happiest moment of my life (the birth of each of my children takes that title) but it was damn near close.
Yes, I know I look like I am praising the running gods in this photo (as do the other runners near me), but in reality this image is capturing an amazing moment in time. All of the training I did (mental and physical), all of the hard work I put into this race, all of my hopes, fears, and determination - it is all captured in this one shot as I am crossing the finish line. I am so grateful for this photo because now I will always have the visual of this incredible memory.
So what's in store for me now? Well, I am planning to run the Disney Half Marathon in January 2018 (already registered 😏). Last year my training focused on building endurance for a longer race; this year my training will focus on endurance and speed (I am hoping to get a PR in Disney next year). So I will continue with long runs and short runs and stair work (running up and down stairs and Holy Cross stadium), but I will push myself a little harder and will work on incorporating more cross training in my cardio routines. Overall, I am excited for another long race and I am looking forward to the challenge of trying to get a better time than my previous half marathon.
But most of all, I am proud to finally have this decal prominently displayed on the back of my car:
Because yeah, I earned that.